George Wallace: “Poem in the Coffeepot”

George Wallace is a New York native who has lived and worked across the US and in Europe. A prominent member of the NYC performance scene, he is writer in residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace, editor of Poetrybay and co-editor of great weather for Media, and in 2015 was named laureate of the International Beat Poetry Festival. He is the author of 30 chapbooks of poetry, including A Simple Blues With A Few Intangibles (Foothills Publications, 2016) and Poppin Johnny (Three Rooms Press, 2009).


Poem in the Coffeepot

Life was good
It was finally good
There was God in the popcorn
Poems in the coffeepot
There was sandlots
And crackerjacks
And picklejars and
Pitchers of beer
There was tenements
And bosses and
Coney Island holidays
And the immigrants came
And the immigrants came
In their immigrant pants
And their immigrant dresses
And they built New York
Out of glass and steel
In their own immigrant image
Olive oil and eggplant
Prayer shawl
Chicken fat and wine
And they kept on coming
With their accents and their
Operatics and their strange
Music halls and melodramas
And stubborn political sciences —
Eastern Europeans, Southern Europeans,
Polish, Russian, Italians,
Jews, Greeks and Germans —
And they kept their big traps shut
When they were forced to but
They stuck to their guns
And they took the dirty jobs in the
Dirty factories and the lights went out
On Saturday night at quarter past ten
And bedposts shook and radiators
Rattled like an elevated railway and
Late night jazz — and the stubborn lights
of New York City glittering like a knife
Thrust deep into the heart of heaven
— And the immigrants of NYC
Wrestling with each other
In the dead of night
For love, for loss
For consolation
For unreasonable

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